Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that peace with the Palestinian Authority can only be achieved through negotiations.
The comments came in the wake of reports that, after refusing to talk to Israel for three years, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has caved in to pressure from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and has agreed to meet Netanyahu.
Speaking during a meeting with Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said that “our fervent hope is for peace, a genuine peace that can be achieved only through direct negotiations without preconditions. We're ready to enter such negotiations. I hope the Palestinians are too.”
He added, “I have to say that our goal is not just to enter and put a 'V' [check the box] to show that we've begun negotiations. Our goal is to persist in the negotiations, to engage in them consistently over a serious period of time in order to try to grapple with all the issues and come to an agreement that resolves the fundamental issues in the conflict.
“This will require time and determination and a systematic approach and I hope that this is what the Palestinians will have. That's our approach. I hope it's theirs too,” said Netanyahu.
He welcomed the Georgian Prime Minister to Israel, saying, “I've been looking forward to our meeting. It will be an important step in continuing the great relationship between Georgia and Israel. We want to expand this relationship in every way – in trade, in agriculture, in cultural exchanges, and I would say strengthening and building on the human bridge between our two societies. We have a very proud community of Jews that came from Georgia, that have been there for thousands of years, and in addition, we have the modern states that have a deep and instinctive friendship between us.
“We all want to see security and stability and peace in our area, and there are great challenges that come from Iran and from many other convulsions in our area. I look forward to talking to you about that as well.”
Georgian Prime Minister Ivanishvili said, “I've not had the opportunity to be able to pay an official visit to our friendly country. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude for inviting me to pay a visit to your country. You are quite well aware that the friendship between the Georgian and the Jewish people lasted for many centuries. We are obliged to live up to this friendship and to the centuries-old cooperation and friendship between our nations, and we have to establish ideal relations between our two countries.
“We really and genuinely love and appreciate the Jewish people and the State of Israel, and our country and our people are doing their best to make sure that our cooperation will reach this upper level and of course we stand ready to share the very vast experience you have in many fields, especially when it comes to agriculture and others,” he added. “We stand ready to cooperate within the framework of an intergovernmental commission and also if there will be mutual will and readiness; we are going to further deepen trade relations between our two countries and to sign the relevant documents in this regard.
“And of course, the issue of the fight against terrorism is a matter of paramount importance, and Israel has been fighting against this phenomenon for many centuries and Israel is the very country that deserves real and lasting peace. We'll try and do our best to continue cooperation and negotiations with the Prime Minister of Israel on the issues of the economy and I think we will manage and we will be successful in terms of further deepening and strengthening our cooperation.”